The Disadvantages of Using Synthetic Motor Oil

by Kristin JirovskyUpdated June 22, 2023
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Synthetic oil is often preferred due its cleaner running capabilities. It's also seen as a great alternative to numerous oil changes. With synthetic oil, you need fewer oil changes than with a petroleum-based oil. Even so, synthetic oil can have its own disadvantages. You must weigh the pros and cons to make sure you are purchasing the product that is best for your car.


The main disadvantage of synthetic oil is the price. Manufacturing synthetic oil requires a far more involved process. Because of this, the price of synthetic oil is nearly four times the price of petroleum-based oil. Using a synthetic oil in a car change could cost you $80 versus $20 of a petroleum-based oil. If you insist on or are comfortable with changing the oil every 3,000 miles, this could get costly for you. Car experts recommend that regardless of whether you use natural or synthetic oil, you should change your oil every 3,000 miles. Synthetic oil does allow for less frequent oil changes, but this is not recommended, especially for more inexpensive vehicles.

New Vehicles

Using synthetic oil is not recommended for brand new or newer vehicles. As new vehicles get broken in, they need the friction created by petroleum-based oils to run properly. If synthetic oils are used right away in a brand new car, this could cause the car to not run as it should.


Used synthetic motor oil is a major environmental pollutant. When oil is used, most of it is dumped improperly. It ends up water resources, including groundwater. When this happens it’s very hard to remove the oil from these sources. Dumped synthetic oil can cause health issues for those using water in areas where the oils have been dumped. In fact, 40 percent of pollution in U.S. waterways occurs from carelessly dumped motor oil. Though petroleum-based motor oils have the same effect on the environment, synthetic motor oils seem to be dumped more, as many people feel synthetic oil is a cleaner alternative and thus cannot harm the environment. Synthetic oils harm the environment in the same way that petroleum-based oils do.

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